31 August, 2016. The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) welcomes today’s announcement that the Victorian state government will significantly expand training opportunities for people seeking asylum and refugees over the next two years.

The $15 million investment in the program provides a tenfold increase in places for refugees and people seeking asylum to access the Asylum Seeker VET Program, expanding from 300 places to 3,000.Additionally, for the first time, refugees on temporary visas will be eligible to enrol.

The VET Program offers participants professional training through TAFEs and other providers, which is of crucial importance for refugees and people seeking asylum who wish to seek employment.

Tim O’Connor, acting CEO of RCOA, said ‘we are delighted by the announcement of a tenfold increase in training opportunities for refugees and people seeking asylum in the state of Victoria. Such examples show the strong political leadership that is being provided by state governments”.

“Lack of access to educational opportunities has been identified as a significant problem for many of the communities that we work with, who want to be able to find meaningful employment to support themselves and their families and to successfully integrate into their new country. The expansion of the VET Program will make a profound difference to thousands of people across Victoria, and we will certainly be encouraging other states to follow suit.’

RCOA’s report, Barriers to Education for People Seeking Asylum and Refugees on Temporary Visas, highlights the lack of training as a major obstacle to the successful settlement and integration of refugees and people seeking asylum. RCOA used the findings of this report to launch their Education for All campaign, which seeks to improve education and training possibilities for these groups.

Since the campaign was launched, RCOA has also worked with universities to successfully increase the number of scholarships available for people seeking asylum and refugees. RCOA will continue their lobbying and advocacy to increase the availability of scholarships and training for these groups to improve settlement outcomes, and welcomes today’s announcement as a significant step forwards in the state of Victoria.

Media enquiries: Laura Stacey 0488 035 535